Imperium Romanum Review

What have I ever done for the Romans???

Review by Darren Cartledge
Published 5th March 2008

Imperium Romanum

  • Developer: Haemimont Games
  • Publisher: Kalypso Media
  • Release Date: 7th March 2008

The Roman Empire is probably the most famous empire in history, expanding from a small village to become the most powerful city of its time. Now with thanks to Haemimont Games you can now relive the glory days of the empire and create it your way.

Imperium Romanum offers three ways to play the game, Scenarios, Rome and Timeline. Playing the game’s scenarios gives you access to several maps set in various world locations with varying terrain to build your city in. These range in difficulty, each with its own problems you need to overcome such as threats from hostile barbarian tribes or lack of resources in the region. Each maps difficulty also affects how Rome supports the new province, and what resources you start with! For instance in areas where barbarians pose a serious threat you will start with an active garrison and on easier maps Rome will send you all the resources you require in order to build a successful settlement.

The game scenarios are pretty open ended with no set objectives for you to complete, whilst playing Rome missions puts you in control of the great city its self, with set objectives for you to achieve, such as over seeing the construction of the Colosseum. This may sound simple, however there are other steps you will have to take before you can begin its construction.

The games Timeline mode sees you take control of some of the Roman Empires most famous cities, and features historically correct events that happened in that city’s history. Like in the Rome missions in the game, these scenarios also have set objectives for you to complete. You are also given historical facts about the city you are currently playing, so who says games don’t teach you things.

Unlike other empire building games that see you simply concentrating on building and defending your settlement, in Imperium Romanum you also have to deal with your citizens needs and desires, such as having entertainment in the form of an amphitheatre or a temple in order to pray, or the most basic need of having a food and water.

Imperium Romanum offers a very simple interface that is easy to get to grips with, the games build menu is accessed by clicking the right mouse button, with each different type of building placed in to the appropriate category, such as basic, military, food production, and public to name a few. Whilst moving around the game map is a simple case of moving the mouse pointer to the edge of the screen, while holding down either shift or the middle mouse button will allow you to rotate your viewpoint and change the steepness of the games camera.

Buildings in the game are all supported by each other and without the necessary support will fail to function. For instance a butchers shop cannot function without a pig farm, while the bakery doesn’t operate without a wheat farm. Each building also has a radius and will only distribute goods in that area, for instance a butchers shop will only distribute meat and sausages to the homes within its radius! However, by building a tavern or market you can extend the range that these goods are available. Buildings can also, only be built within the vicinity of your main settlement, and buildings that gather your resources such as iron ore, gold or wood must be placed by the relevant source. This would be an obstacle if it wasn’t for the ability to create warehouses as outposts enabling you to build far from your city’s boundaries. But be warned, this isn’t really a good idea if there are hostile barbarians in the region.

This brings me onto combat in the game! There are three types of military units that can be trained in Imperium Romanum, infantry, archers and cavalry. Like all buildings the military structures require support from other buildings within your city, such as a weapons shop and blacksmith. Actual combat is a simple affair you simply deploy the relevant squad from their appropriate base. You can then order them to move to the desired location or attack nearby enemy units, your squad will continue to fight whilst they have morale but once this is depleted they will retreat back to the barracks, where any lost members of the squad will be replaced. Enemy unit’s performance in battle is also affected by morale. You can lower an enemy’s morale by showering them with arrows from your archers. The games combat is relatively simple yet to take on the larger tribes of barbarians you will have to adopt real strategies instead of relying on your superior technology.

As mentioned above you will also have to meet the needs of you citizens, if you fail to do this then they will become angry or even rebellious. These inhabitants will then go on to cause problems such as protesting, rioting and setting buildings on fire. You can control rebellious citizens by trying to meet their needs which are viewable by selecting a temple or altar. However I did encounter a problem with the game at this point, after a warning that citizens were beginning to become angry as there were no altars for them to pray to the gods, I immediately built one only for the angry mob to begin rioting some time after its construction was completed. They then went on to set fire to my city’s forum meaning the end of the scenario. It seems that angry citizens are slower to react to change then content citizens. Why they seem so slow to react to positive changes is unexplainable, as nearby buildings react instantly and usually upgrade a level, once a special building has been constructed.

Imperium Romanum also doesn’t feature any multiplayer options, but the content included in the game should provide you with an extensive amount of gameplay as each scenario can take several hours to complete.

Visually Imperium Romanum is very impressive with an excellent level of detail. Buildings all have an authentic look about them as they go through the various stages of development. Character animation is also very good, the game allows you to zoom right into the action and it’s nice to be able to see the workers busy on the farms or pigs rolling around in the mud. The game also features excellent lighting effects, with full day and night cycles that allow for some excellent scenery as the sun sets over the water.

The games environments also feature a lot of details, with varied landscapes, realistic looking water and grass and trees that sway in the wind. The game also features different weather with thunder storms a common occurrence. Overall Imperium Romanum, is a stunning looking strategy game.

Sound in the Imperium Romanum isn’t up to the same standards as the game graphics, music and sound effects are both good, it’s just that they seem a little limited. Each mission objective is also read out, as are warnings and other information. It’s done well but the voice actor does it so slowly that by the time he’s finished you could have read the relevant information 3 or 4 times.

While Imperium Romanum is a solid strategy title, it may not appeal to those who like large scale combat as it tends to lean very heavily towards empire building, but all in all it offers a good playing experience and is as solid as the Roman Empire itself!

Review Score: 7.2/10

Please note, this review was scored using our old system. For more information please see our review policy.

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